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Fostering Social Entrepreneurship in India – IFMR at Khemka Forum

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The annual forum on social entrepreneurship organized by Nand & Jeet Khemka Foundation and hosted by the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad was held on the 8th and 9th December 09. The event saw wide spread participation by organizations that are working in the social entrepreneurship space including IFMR Trust (presently known as Dvara Holdings), which was one of the forum partners.

The forum proved to be a perfect platform for discussing issues pertaining to social entrepreneurship and brought together thought leaders, institutions, academicians, the government and social entrepreneurs under a single roof – paving way for an intense series of interactions across stakeholders to address issues and bring out solutions to carve out a roadmap for Social Entrepreneurship in India.

After the opening remarks on the first day, the forum kicked off with the theme “Working Scaling Issues ‘Fingers burnt, lessons learnt’”. The panelists for this theme were Mr. Manish Sabharwal (Co-Founder of Team Lease), Dr. Pawan Patil (CEO of the Global Partnership for Youth Investment) and Dr. Nachiket Mor (President of ICICI Foundation).

Mr. Sabharwal categorized start-up organizations into two types – ‘a baby’ or ‘a dwarf’ – both start small but the dwarf doesn’t attain growth due to inherent differences. Dr. Patil talked about creating jobs, especially for the growing youth population, while Dr. Mor talked about India type scale which may require replications in the midst of diversity rather than scaling up for a single large population of the country.

Next theme discussed was “SCALERS” which stands for Staffing, Communicating, Alliance-building, Lobbying, Earnings generation, Replicating, and Stimulating market forces. These factors have a critical role (each factor with varying levels depending on the case and context) in affecting social impact. Matthew Nash, Managing Director of the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University, discussed this new model.

Parag Gupta, Founder of Waste Bank, presented his analysis using the SCALERS model on SELCO, a social enterprise that provides sustainable energy solutions and services to under-served households and businesses and identified its accomplishments and challenges. Similarly, Prof. Madhukar Shukla of XLRI presented his analysis of the SCALERS model on Nidan, a not for profit enterprise which organizes the unorganized worker including migrant workers, street vendor, waste pickers and other informal sector workers.

The forum also saw a series of Tracks (Sessions) that addressed a variety of issues; Bindu Ananth, President, IFMR Trust (presently known as Dvara Holdings), chaired and led one such track on “New Financial Instruments for Social Enterprises” which addressed the theme of new financial instruments available to social entrepreneurs. The track managed to get a very good response and was widely appreciated on how it was moderated and the deliberations that resulted, from the session. IFMR Trust played an instrumental role from identification of session’s topic to moderation of the session.

The discussants for IFMR Trust’s track on ‘New Financial Instruments for Social Enterprises’ included Ms. Subhasri Sriram (Shriramcity Union), Mr. Subir Nag (ICICI Ventures), and Dr. Reuben Abraham (Centre for Emerging Market Solutions at ISB).

Some of the other tracks were Intellectual & Human capital, Performance Metrics and Partnering with the Government.

Also ‘Consultancy Clinics’ were organized for social entrepreneurs to help them get answers to their questions related to funding, legal issues and knowledge creation. The consultancy clinic on law was particularly useful for enterprises that can take the benefit of hybrid structures for getting funds and tax rebates. It also highlighted the importance of good corporate governance for social enterprises.

Overall the forum provided insights into the challenges which social enterprises face in scaling up – both financial and non-financial – and ways to deal with it, through a series of discussions and work sessions focused on re-inventing and innovating solutions to such scaling up issues.

Shikha Jindal from IFMR Ventures, contributed to this post.

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